Originally published Thursday, 21 July 2016.
She wore ivory, the same dress her mother wore decades before her.
Her satin train melted onto the church aisle in ripples of lace delicate and sheer. She insisted her toenails be painted pale pink, her fingernails a lacquered shine. The flowers were shades of pink and coral—peony and ranunculus stems tied together with ivory ribbon layered over her grandfather’s cotton handkerchief with monogrammed pale blue trim.
He stood there at the end of the aisle, young and strong and willing to take on the world. He was her everything, the man she believed she would love until the end of her days. This was it. The beginning of her life, the beginning of all possibility. They were going to be a team, able to conquer any obstacle, steadfast and sure toward anything that got in their way.
Love conquers all, right? Love was certainly all they needed. Clearly, it would not fail.
And then it did.
She tells me she isn’t sure when the fairy tale ended. Or maybe it was never a fairy tale at all. But she loved him. And he loved her. Or I think she thought he did—and she believed she loved him too.
Nevertheless, those words, “I love you,” became words for her that meant only what the newly engaged couple, elated and blissful, whisper to each other over a candle light meal, a display of false, saccharine perfection displayed in Lifetime Channel movies on TV.
She asks now, could love, with a husband, be something that could last—that would be more than a fairytale, but reality, too?
Marriage is no fairytale. That’s for sure. Marriage is difficult, God.
She prays, “How did it get so hard to keep loving each other? Where did we go wrong? How can I find my way to him—toward You, God, toward love again?”
We ask these questions of God.
And married or not, we wonder about love.
We know we are made for love, that we are desperate for it. So, we turn our hearts to God, asking Him if we will find love, or if we can trust it, or if there is anything we can do to make it last.
We also ask God what to do when we think we had found love but the relationship is going downhill and it hardly feels worth it anymore to redeem it, to try.
What are the answers about love, about marriage, that we are so desperate to hear?
In Breathing Eden, we hear the cry of sisters opening their hearts to God about love, about relationships, about marriage, about dreams. We listen to characters who are a lot like us, women who are in a relationship mess and are desperate to hear what God has to say about it.
Below are some of the women you will meet in the pages of Breathing Eden, and their questions:
There is Laine. (Those of you who have sent me an image of your Amazon receipt and have pre-ordered the book have already received the first five chapters of the book from me and have met her.) Laine is wistful, contemplating her marriage. She has been married long enough for the “honeymoon” to wear off. She asks God, “How can I trust my own heart?” She is disconnected from her husband. She fears something is missing, and she doesn’t know what it is.
There is Phoebe. She is a couple decades older than Laine. Phoebe married her high school sweetheart and now struggles to choose love and connect with her husband, a stranger now that the kids have moved out, after focusing on raising kids for so many years. She asks God, “Do I have what it takes to love my husband well?” She fears she is too broken to love him, that it is too late for a new start for her marriage, and that she has no love to give.
There is Janie. She is newly separated from her husband, and they are heading toward divorce. Janie struggles with disillusionment, facing the dying of dreams and expectations. She is angry at God, asking Him, “Where were you when my husband left?” She fears God was never there, in her marriage, and there is no way He could be here for her now, either. She also worries about the effect of this impending divorce on their kids.
Can you relate to these women? Are any of their questions yours?
If you hear your heart open wide for Laine, or for Phoebe, or for Janie–or if you have questions for God about love and marriage and relationships–perhaps you would want to hear what He says to them? Because for each story in Breathing Eden, for each woman’s cry out to God, there is a response.
And God’s response is surprising. Every time.
Do you want to hear, today, what God says in response to Laine . . . and to you?
Do you want to engage with the story in a deep way, attain resources, and be lead in searching your own heart, with God? Pre-order Breathing Eden.
Then forward to me the email you get back from Amazon, and I will send you the introduction and the first five chapters of Breathing Eden–which includes Laine’s story and God’s response–today. (My email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
What struggles do you face in love, or in marriage?
Much love to you, sister,
P.S. I was blown away by the 125 individual emails I received from you all in response to the previous post titled “I am depressed.” Oh, sisters, you are so not alone!
Your response has made me wonder about how to get you all to get to know each other somehow. For your stories are hard, yes—but you are beautiful! And I believe you could be amazing encouragement to each other. I know Loop Prayer Sisters is one way we could begin as a way for you all to connect. But I wonder if we can do better? I wonder if we can think of other ways too? Would you like that? How should we do it?
Email me (email@example.com) if you have an idea! Any ideas welcome!
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com